Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Wednesday 18 September 2019

It may be a bit late to remark on Saturday's other big event, the Last Night of the Proms, but there are some bemusing, if predictable, comments on the BBC's Facebook feed of the moments where the guest star singer of the night, Jamie Barton, not only waved her flag but nailed her colours to the mast, changing a line of "I Got Rhythm" to "I got my gal", and, at the climactic moment of "Rule Britannia", holding high a rainbow flag. As one might suspect, the Daily Mail readers lined up the complaints about it being "too political" (though that complaint was as much about the prevalence of EU flags and gold-starred blue berets among the prommers in the Arena) and "rubbing our noses in it".

Quite how any of that is more political than the waving of Union Jacks (or any other national symbols), I don't know; in any case, the apparently patriotic elements of the Last Night have carried a strong element of ironic exaggeration at least since they started to be set in stone in the 1950s, and the enthusiasm for them is simply that community singing of belting tunes on a party night is fun. Nor is it obvious how it's any more ostentatious than the time, a few years ago, when a prommer threw a pair of knickers at Jonas Kaufman, only to have a pair of Union Jack boxers lobbed back in return, or the time (even more years back) when Anna Netrebko smooched her way around the orchestra, caressing the occasional male musician as she sang Lehar's"Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiß".

And then there was the complaint about bringing foreign performers in for the last night (culminating in "Rule Britannia", of course) - but hadn't they actually picked up from the programmes for the other 90-odd concerts that the galaxy of overseas star performers (not to mention composers) is rather the point of the whole exercise?

Be that as it may, and controversy apart, here's Jamie Barton's performance on the night of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

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